Jan. 26 (UPI) — Despite weeks of opposition, Filipino President Rodrigo Duterte’s government said Thursday it will honor an agreement that allows the U.S. government to upgrade and expand temporary bases located in the Pacific Rim country. (See Here : Duterte OK with U.S. expansion plans at Philippine military bases

Philippine Defense Minister Delfin Lorenzana told reporters at a Thursday briefing that work on the U.S. facilities, which will likely cost billions of dollars, will begin sometime this year.

The Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement, enacted three years ago, gives the United States access to five military bases in the Philippines. Recent criticisms of the U.S. government by Duterte, though, have led to questions over whether the Philippine leader would abide by the 2014 agreement.
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“EDCA is still on,” Lorenzana said Thursday. “He said we will honor all agreements that were entered into by the previous government.”

Some of the work will include setting up runways, temporary facilities for U.S. troops and storage areas for humanitarian equipment.

Last fall, Duterte criticized former President Barack Obama‘s administration and said he wants American troops to leave the country within two years.

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